As a family caregiver, you may often wonder if your parent is eating enough foods to provide them with the many nutrients they need to truly sustain themselves and lead a healthy life. You are not alone. This concern is a common one among family caregivers, and for a very good reason. According to recent statistics in Forbes, one in three hospital patients is malnourished upon admission, and malnutrition is linked to sarcopenia, or loss of muscle mass, which increases the risk of falls in seniors.
Your Parent’s Changing Appetite.
There are several reasons why your parent’s appetite may diminish with age. These include a decrease in both taste and smell senses, dietary restrictions due to medical conditions, varying medications, chronic pain, digestive issues, dementia, problems with teeth and gums or dentures, and increasing isolation.
Tips for Caregivers.
A study was conducted on individuals age 65 and over that were admitted to the hospital for congestive heart failure, heart attack, pneumonia or COPD and were in a malnourished state. Those that were given a nutrient-dense oral nutritional supplement exhibited a significantly greater survival rate. Other studies suggest that the use of oral nutritional supplements in hospital settings may reduce complications and readmission rates.
Supplying your parent with nutrient-dense foods is one way to ensure that they are receiving the vitamins and minerals that they need to thrive. If they have trouble with their digestion or dentures, smoothies and soups are a good way to get needed nutrients. There are several high-quality and tasty nutritional supplements that can be added. Check with their primary care provider or nutritionist to see if they have a specific one they would recommend for your parent’s needs.
Nutrient dense foods include most leafy greens such as kale, chard, collard greens and spinach. Other vegetables that fall into that category are bell peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and artichokes. Fruits high on the nutrient index include strawberries, blueberries, grapes, pomegranates, avocado and cantaloupes. Seeds, nuts, beans and salmon are good sources of both protein and nutrients. Whole grains deliver needed B vitamins as well as some minerals and dietary fiber.
Some quick foods to prepare and keep in your parent’s refrigerator include a slice of toasted whole-grain sprouted bread smeared with avocado or one of the many nut butters such as pistachio or almond; poached salmon atop leafy greens; and a medley of sautéed peppers, asparagus and mushrooms combined with wild and brown rice or quinoa. Keep seeds, nuts and fruits handy for snacking. A low-fat Greek yogurt mixed with fruit and nuts provides protein, calcium and antioxidants.
Understanding the source of your parents diminishing food intake will help you determine how to resolve it. Take a list of their medications to their pharmacist to make sure that this is not an issue and talk to your parent. It may very well be that they just need someone to share their meals with. If this is the case, talk to family, friends, neighbors, community members and home care providers, and set up a schedule so that your parent finds themselves with the company they seek come dinner.
If you or someone you know needs caregiver services in Fairmont, MN, contact Prairie River Home Care. We provide quality and affordable home care services for many fragile or senior members in the communities we serve. Call us at (888) 660-5772 for more information.